The Anatomy of Torture: A Documentary History of Filartiga v. Pena-Irala

In recent years, victims of human rights abuses have filed civil lawsuits in U.S. courts. This litigation provides victims a voice and promotes accountability for violations of international law.
This is the story of Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, one of the most significant examples of human rights litigation in the U.S., presented as a documentary history – an approach to legal scholarship that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Unlike traditional casebooks, this book emphasizes the dynamic nature of law. The pleadings and documents appear with minimal editing and are supplemented through commentary by various litigation participants.
Published under the Transnational Publishers imprint.
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EUR €156.00USD $210.00

Biographical Note

William J. Aceves is a Professor of Law and Director of the International Legal Studies Program at California Western School of Law, where he teaches Civil Procedure, Comparative Law, Foreign Affairs Law, and Human Rights Law. Professor Aceves has written numerous articles on human rights and international law. He frequently works with Amnesty International, the Center for Justice & Accountability, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union on projects involving the domestic application of international law. Professor Aceves has also represented several human rights and civil liberties organizations as amicus curiae counsel in cases before the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Review Quotes

Filartiga v Pena-Irala is a landmark decision in international human rights law. Dozens of human rights cases have built upon the Filartiga precedent, including those against former dictators like Ferdinand Marcos and U.S. corporations complicit in abuses abroad. ... Thankfully, Aceves never forgets the human story behind the Filartiga case. His summary of the case is thorough yet accessible, as is his account of the entire body of human rights litigation it created. ... Lawyers and law students will undoubtedly find Aceves’ history of enormous interest. – Paul Hoffman, review of The Anatomy of Torture: A Documentary History of Filartiga v Pena-Irala, by William J. Aceves, Amnesty International Magazine (Fall 2007) 22

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Filartiga v. Pena-Irala: The Birth of Transnational Litigation
A. Death in Paraguay
B. Justice in America
Chapter 3: Filartiga and the Development of Transnational Litigation
A. Extending Filartiga Through Legislation
1. Torture Victim Protection Act
2. Anti-Terrorism Act
3. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act
B. Extending Filartiga Through Litigation
1. Argentina: Forti v. Suarez-Mason
2. Burma: Doe v. Unocal
3. Chile: Cabello v. Fernandez-Larios
4. Ethiopia: Abebe-Jira v. Negewo
5. The Philippines: In re Marcos Human Rights Litigation
6. Former Yugoslavia: Kadic v. Karadzic
C. Holocaust Litigation
D. Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain: The Supreme Court Speaks
Chapter 4: Conclusion
Appendix: Litigation Documents and Related Materials


Legal practitioners, scholars, human rights activists, courts, and students.


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